The most outrageous animated movie of the year combines cute faces on food products with a harsh world of sex and murder.
The story starts at a supermarket, just before opening time, and we see that the food on the shelves is actually alive. All the sausages and fruit and milk cartons have cute faces and big Mickey Mouse gloves. The packages and products aren’t just alive; they act as foulmouthed, oversexed teenagers who had a bit too much sugar. We meet Frank the sausage who is stuck with ten of his friends in a package, and his girlfriend Brenda the bun is right next to him in another package. They feel like they are made for each other and long to be together. A very arousing idea for both of them. Together they sing a welcome to their Gods, the customers, in hopes that they will be chosen and brought to the promised land.
A huge collection of well-known actors can be heard on the screen. Seth Rogen, the brain behind this film, plays Frank himself and Kristen Wiig his girlfriend Brenda. There are guest appearances by Salma Hayek as a taco and Edward Norton as a Jewish bagel. Danny McBride as Honey Mustard reprises an entire scene almost literally from Rogen’s earlier film This is the End.
Religion and sexuality are only the first sensitive topics that Sausage Party takes up and sinks its teeth into; many more follow. This is no surprise when we realize that this is a film by Seth Rogen, who both co-wrote the thing and performs as Frank the sausage. The self-appointed king of the stoner-comedy has made a name for himself for films as Pineapple Express and more recently The Interview and Bad Neighbors. All of his films are full of drugs, sex and assorted bodily fluids. That Sausage Party is an animated feature doesn’t mean it is any less raunchy. On the contrary, it’s as if animation removed all limitations from Rogen’s sense of humor and we can now see it in all its shocking, naked purity.
It is easy to miss that there are no real jokes in the movie, in the sense of a joke being set up and paid off. All comedy here is based on reference to one thing or another. So, we have Jewish and Arab food that reenact their fights in the middle east. We have racist black, Indian and Mexican food and references to all sorts of sexual acts. There is endless swearing because it looks funny when it is done by cute food-people. For all we know, the writers might have worked down a list of things to refer to. It does feel that way. This might be a good moment to mention that this is not a film for children, nor for people who are quickly insulted.
But what about the story and the animation? Well, it won’t win any beauty contests. The animated creatures are barebones, not much more than moving cubes and cylinders, and the people look like ridiculous caricatures. Still, there are moments of brilliant visual puns that are some of the highlights of the film. The story fails to have an impact, because it rushes haphazardly over all the plot points, has flat characters and at the end we have no real sense of a journey completed. But it still wants to commit to a deeper message about faith and religion, which is actually handled surprisingly well.
Watch this only if you think that foulmouthed cartoons are funny and really enjoy elaborate references to political situations and popular culture. The animation gave Seth Rogen and his team the inspiration to be as outrageous as they could possibly be, which is at times very funny. It’s a shame though that the characters and story are quite uninteresting.